Getting To Grips With InDesign Part 5: Playing With Styles




This article/tutorial is the fifth in the series. In this part of the Getting To Grips Series we will be covering the following topics:

  • Creating Paragraph Styles
  • Applying Paragraph Styles
  • Creating Character Styles
  • Applying Character Styles
  • Nesting Character Styles within Paragraph Styles
  • Creating Object Styles
  • Applying Object Styles

If you like this article, please do spread the word by tweeting, stumbling and digging. There are plenty more InDesign articles on their way, so keep an eye out for them!

Introduction

We have briefly looked at some styles already in our Getting To Grips With InDesign series, so you should already know what they are. If you’re skipping directly to this article however, I’ll quickly tell you what they are. Styles can be applied to several different types of text and objects within your InDesign document. They provide a quick and simple way to create a style once, and then can be used over and over again, simply applying them to the text that you want to carry that style. They are particularly helpful for long documents such as magazines and newspapers, as these tend to carry several different styles throughout the design, but stay the same every week. Using styles in situations like these can save a lot of time as you don’t have to keep on recreating that “look”.

There are several different types of styles; paragraph styles for applying to blocks of text, character styles for applying to characters, and object styles for applying to objects such as shapes and images. Styles can also be globally updated, meaning you can update the style and all the objects that currently hold that style will also update.

How to Create and Apply Paragraph Styles

Paragraph styles can control almost every form of text formatting, so it is one of the most helpful styles you can use in InDesign. It can include character attributes such as sizes, fonts, styles and colors, as well as paragraph attributes such as alignment and hyphenation. Paragraph styles can only be applied to entire paragraphs of text. For more control over individual characters, see character styles (below).

To create a paragraph style, we need some text in an InDesign document! Open up InDesign, and layout some random dummy text into a text box.

InDesign Tutorial

To create a paragraph style, you first need to select some of your text and play around with type settings. I’m going to select my first paragraph. I’m going to give me text a spaced out look. I used Verdana Regular for my font, at size 11pt, with 16pt leading (the amount of space between each line of text). I also applied a tracking (the amount of space between each word) of 20 to the text. You can see how my text looks below, as well as the settings I used.

InDesign Tutorial

Go to Window > Type & Tables > Paragraph Styles to open the Paragraph Styles window.

InDesign Tutorial

With the Paragraph Styles window open, click on the Create New Style icon at the bottom of the window. Creating a new style this way requires you to completely re-style your text.

InDesign Tutorial

A new paragraph style should be created, and will automatically be called “Paragraph Style 1“. Double-click on this style to open up the Paragraph Style Options window.

InDesign Tutorial

As you can see, there are a bunch of different tabs on the left-hand side of your Paragraph Style Options window which allow you to modify your style. You can change anything and everything from your font, size, leading, tracking, kerning, scaling, indents and spacing, tabs, hyphenation, justification, bullets and numbering styles and a handful of other stuff. You change these styles according to your needs, and then click the OK button to save them. It’s also a good idea to rename your style.

InDesign Tutorial

There is in my opinion a much nicer way to create paragraph styles, based on a paragraph that already exists. Take our first paragraph for example that we styled earlier. If you leave your text insertion point cursor in the center of your text, and then click on the drop-down options menu in the Paragraph Styles window, you should see the following selection:

InDesign Tutorial

Select New Paragraph Style. You’ll see in the Style Settings area that your style has actually picked up your existing styles: “[No Paragraph Style] + next: [Same style] + Verdana + size: 11 pt + leading: 16 pt + tracking: 20” – these settings are the exact same as the styling we added to our first paragraph. Simply change the name of the style, and click OK to save the style.

InDesign Tutorial
InDesign Tutorial

Select the rest of your text in the text box by highlighting it all.

InDesign Tutorial

Click on your Paragraph Style once to apply the styling to the rest of your text.

InDesign Tutorial

The style can be applied to just one paragraph at a time, or several. Whole text boxes can also be selected individually or as a pair (by holding the Shift-Key to select multiple items) and had the same style be applied to them, although this overwrites any text that previously had styles, so you should avoid this option if your headings have different styles, which I assume they do!

How to Create and Apply Character Styles

Character styles are virtually the same as paragraph styles, however they can be applied to a single character (letter), word, or a group of words, such as a quote or an instruction.

To open up the Character Styles window, go to Window > Type & Tables > Character Styles. As you can clearly see, the Character Styles windows looks virtually identical to the Paragraph Styles window, and even automatically merges into the same window (as a second tab) as the Paragraph Styles window.

InDesign Tutorial

Creating a character style – just like everything else – is the same as creating a paragraph style. You can either style some already existing text and then base a new style on that text, or you can create one from scratch. This time, we’re going to create one from scratch. Click on the create new style icon, and then double-click on the new style to open up the Character Style Options window.

InDesign Tutorial

This window also looks very similar to the Paragraph Style Options window, however there aren’t quite as many options due to only being a character style, meaning we don’t get any paragraph style options such as alignment or bullet/numbered lists.

Rename your style to “Quote“. We’re going to base this style on the paragraph style we created earlier, however we’re going to make it stand out a little more so that it can be spotted easily. The style will be used for quotes.

InDesign Tutorial

Click on the Basic Character Formats tab on the left-hand side of the Character Style Options window, and select Verdana from the font family drop-down list. Change the font style to Bold Italic, and the size and leading to 12pt and 16pt. We also want to underline our text, so tick on the underline box.

InDesign Tutorial

Click on the Character Color tab, and select pure 100% magenta for your color (or of course a color of your choice!).

InDesign Tutorial

Hit the OK button to save your character style. Select a word or group of words in your paragraph, and click on your character style once to apply the style.

InDesign Tutorial

How to Nest Character Styles inside Paragraph Styles

Nesting your character styles inside a paragraph style allows you to make your styles much more useful. This technique is often used for magazines and newspaper for a reason that I am about to share: Nested styles allow you to apply character styles to portions of a paragraph, whether it be the first letter, the first word, or the first sentence – something that you commonly see in a magazine or newspaper to help draw in the viewers attention with a whopping first line, this is commonly known as a “run-in heading” as it runs you into the rest of the paragraph and/or story.

To be able to create a nested style, you will already need a paragraph style and a character style, which we already have. However, we want to create a new character style for our nested style, which will be the first sentence of our paragraphs. Create a new character style has we have just done.

InDesign Tutorial

We’re now going to apply our new character style as a nested style to our main paragraph style. Open up the Paragraph Styles window by going to Window > Type & Tables > Paragraph Styles. Double-click on your main paragraph style to open up the Paragraph Style Options window. On the left-hand side of the window, select the Drop Caps and Nested Styles tab.

InDesign Tutorial

Click on the New Nested Style button to create a new nested style. Click on “[None]” to open up a drop-down menu and select your new character style to nest.

InDesign Tutorial

The other options, such as “through“, “1” and “words” are also all hidden drop-down menus. I want my nested style to apply to the first sentence of each paragraph, so change these options to do that.

InDesign Tutorial

Click the OK button to save your style. This will automatically apply our nested style to all of our paragraphs that currently have that paragraph style applied to them. In this case, that’s all of them. You may may only want to apply this effect to your first paragraph, in which case you will need two paragraph styles; one for your first paragraph that contains a nested style for the first sentence, and one for all your other paragraphs that doesn’t contain a nested style – one can be called “First Main Paragraph” and the other “Main Paragraph“.

InDesign Tutorial

How to Create and Apply Object Styles

Object styles are just like text styles, apart from they allow you to automatically and globally update the formatting settings to objects such as graphics and frames. The formatting attributes include things such as fill, stroke, transparency, text wrap options and several others. These styles – just like all the other styles we have looked at – make it quick and easy to keep the consistency of your design going throughout your document, whether it be a brochure, magazine or book.

First of all, we need an object to apply our object style to! Create a few random shapes using the various shape tools.

InDesign Tutorial

Click on one of your shapes, and fill it with a color – I’ve chosen green with a black stroke. Go to Objects > Effects > Inner Shadow.

InDesign Tutorial

Play around with some settings, and also add any other styles you feel like adding. I’ve used an inner shadow and a drop shadow, both of which can be seen below.

InDesign Tutorial
InDesign Tutorial

Click the OK button to save the effects.

InDesign Tutorial

Go to Window > Object Styles to open up your Object Styles window. Click on your styled shape, and then F from the options drop-down menu, select New Object Style

InDesign Tutorial

As with other styles, doing this whilst having an already styled object selected will automatically base your new object style on the already existing style. All you have to do is rename your style name to something suitable (such as “Green Shape“) and click the OK button.

InDesign Tutorial

Click on your other objects whilst holding the shift-key to select them all at once, and then click once on your new new object style to apply the styling attributes to your new shapes.

InDesign Tutorial

Conclusion

Styles are a super easy and quick way to produce the same effect in InDesign, and almost every designer who uses InDesign on a day-to-day basis will likely have hundreds of styles wrapped up for individual projects that they need to revisit, or even for long one-off documents. If you have any questions regarding InDesigns styles feature, please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments below!


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